How to do Cairns in a week

The Great Barrier Reef is one of Cairns' most popular attractions.How to do Cairns in a week

Cairns is packed full of exciting activities to do and beautiful sights to see - but if you're only going for a week or less, you'll want to get to the cream of the crop first.

It can be hard to know which places are the best to visit if you're new to the area, so this handy guide to some of the best attractions should help you out when it comes to planning your family holiday in Queensland.

Make the most of your family getaway and dive right in with these fun Cairns attractions:

The Great Barrier Reef

The world's single biggest coral structure, the Great Barrier Reef runs for over 2,300 km along the northeast coast of Queensland and features a naturally beautiful environment that's home to many dazzling species of underwater creatures.

Whether you go for the whale watching, an opportunity to get up close to some of the marine wildlife at the reef or to do a bit of diving at the sanctioned dive sites, the Great Barrier Reef is definitely a must-see attraction if you're in Tropical North Queensland.

The reef is an activity perfect for the whole family and Cairns is one of the best places to plan a visit to the reef from, as plenty of tour companies operate day services or overnight trips from Cairns to the reef.

If you're staying at one of Mantra's hotels or resorts in Cairns like Mantra Trilogy, you'll be able to have your pick of a range of tour companies based in the surrounding area.

Muddy's Playground

Perfect for younger children, Muddy's Playground is a modern and safe playground and parkland with several fun water play areas that your kids will love.

Different age groups have separate areas catered specifically to them, combining interactive and educational facilities with custom-designed play equipment.

The water play zones have water channels, hand pumps, water gates, jumping water jets and the famous 'Muddy' mud skipper sculpture.

There's even a cafe on hand and barbecue and picnic facilities available so you can sit down and have a bite to eat while your kids make the most of the playground.

"Make the most of your family getaway and dive right in with these fun Cairns attractions.

Esplanade Lagoon

Located on the Cairns foreshore, the Esplanade Lagoon is a 4,800 square metre saltwater swimming lagoon that provides a safe (and picturesque) swimming location all year round.

Saltwater is pumped in from a nearby inlet and filtered to ensure that the water meets Australian standards, so you can enjoy a leisurely swimming experience in the lagoon or relax on the shaded timber decks nearby while the kids build sandcastles or splash around.

Mantra Esplanade is located right on the Esplanade in Cairns, so this beautiful lagoon is just a hop, skip and a jump away!


The Atherton Tablelands are definitely a highlight of the Cairns region - with a year-round temperate climate, these scenic tablelands are situated between 500 and 1,000 metres above the Great Barrier Reef.

You could easily spend a few days at the Tablelands as there's so much to see - ancient rainforests, beautiful volcanic lakes, a stunning waterfall circuit and so much more.

Sailing tours

For a unique way to experience Cairns, you can't go wrong with a sailing tour - plenty of yachts, sailing catamarans and large sailing vessels cruise the waves regularly so it's well worth booking a spot on one of them for your family to enjoy.

Just make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and a hat even on overcast days, because the sunlight reflected off the waves can be quite strong.

Each company has a different route, so you can pick and choose from a tour of the reef or some of the lesser known destinations like Lizard Island, Green Island and the Ribbon reefs.

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